Howe’s that? Jonathan Maitland’s smash hit, Dead Sheep, to tour UK

Dead Sheep at Park Theatre. Photos Darren Bell.
Dead Sheep. Images Darren Bell.

It was a landslide victory baa none for writer Jonathan Maitland when Maggie Thatcher and Geoffrey Howe resumed hostilities in his blistering satire, Dead Sheep.

Now this splendid production (read Stage Review’s five star verdict bit.ly/1av8uZV) is to tour the UK with its original star resuming his seat in the House.

It had a record-breaking run at London’s Park Theatre and huge critical and public acclaim. Maitland’s debut play, directed by Ian Talbot, will tour from September.

Dead Sheep - Graham Seed - cDarren Bell

Steve Nallon returns to star as Margaret Thatcher having portrayed her for many years on TV’s political satire Spitting Image. Further casting to be announced.

It is 1989 and a seemingly invincible Prime Minister has sacked her Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe, thinking she had nothing to fear from him; his speaking skills had, famously, been compared to those of a dead sheep. But inspired by his wife Elspeth – a formidable and witty feminist, whose relationship with Thatcher was notoriously frosty – Howe overcame his limitations to destroy Mrs Thatcher’s political career…and also his own.

Dead Sheep portrays the true story of how Mrs Thatcher, the most divisive Prime Minister of modern times, was brought down by her one time friend and political soul mate Geoffrey Howe.

Using imagined dialogue to portray private scenes between the main protagonists, it recreates the events leading up to Howe’s famous 1990 speech, in which he criticised Thatcher for undermining policies on economic and monetary union in Europe, ultimately leading to her downfall and resignation.

Dead Sheep is the result of two years’ research, during which the playwright gained access to Geoffrey Howe himself and other prominent politicians and advisers of the era.

Dead Sheep - Steve Nallon as 'Margaret Thatcher' - cDarren Bell

Jonathan Maitland said: “The themes of ‘Dead Sheep’ are, uncannily, as relevant now as they were 26 years ago : a Government bitterly split over Europe, old friends at loggerheads, careers on the line and our country’s future at stake.

“I’m delighted – it’s a perfect recipe for drama and comedy.”

Jonathan Maitland is a broadcaster and writer. He reported for Radio 4’s Today programme in the 1990s, before co-presenting BBC1’s Watchdog and ITV 1’s House of Horrors. He has presented ITV1’s flagship current affairs show, Tonight , for the last 16 years. His co-written screenplay about the footballer Stanley Matthews has been optioned and is in development.

Dead Sheep was his debut play at Park Theatre, which was then followed by the highly controversial An Audience with Jimmy Savile, starring Alistair McGowan, which went on to smash his existing box office record. His third play at the venue, Deny Deny Deny, which tackles doping in sport, opens at the theatre in November.

UK TOUR DATES

SEP 5 DONCASTER CAST THEATRE
SEP 12 WESTCLIFF PALACE THEATRE, SOUTHEND
SEP 19 NORTHAMPTON THEATRE ROYAL
SEP 26 BIRMINGHAM REP
OCT 3 SHREWSBURY SEVERN THEATRE
OCT 10 CARDIFF NEW THEATRE
OCT 17 COVENTRY BELGRADE THEATRE
OCT 31 EXETER NORTHCOTT THEATRE
NOV 7 EASTBOURNE DEVONSHIRE PARK
NOV 14 MALVERN FESTIVAL THEATRE
NOV 21 GUILDFORD YVONNE ARNAUD
NOV 28 BROMLEY CHURCHILL THEATRE

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